Earlier this year, Abengoa Solar was awarded a $1.45 billion loan guarantee for its proposed Solana concentrated solar plant in Arizona. On Dec. 21, the company received financing for $1.45 billion of the roughly $2 billion project, allowing it to move forward. At 250 megawatts the plant may be the largest in the world when it goes online in 2013.
Abengoa signed a 30 year power-purchase agreement with Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) for the power that the plant will supply.
“Everything is working out as planned,” said APS spokesperson Steven Gotfried. “The financing of the project was a major hurdle to get over.” He explained that the project took longer than expected to get underway because of the financial meltdown of 2008. “Now we’re back on track.”
The financing for the Solana solar project is being made by the Federal Financing Bank, Abengoa reported on Dec. 21. The company will self-finance the remaining $550,000. The plant will be built near Gila Bend, Ariz., and when completed will serve 70,000 households, the company said.
The Solana project will use reflective troughs to concentrate sunlight on tubes filled with molten salt. The molten salt will be used to superheat water into steam. And the steam will be used to power a steam turbine generator.
Since it uses molten salt, the power plant is capable of storing excess heat generated and producing electricity during cloudy periods and into the evening, according to Abengoa.
The company said, “It is the first large-scale solar plant in the United States capable of storing the energy it generates.” It will include six hours of molten salt thermal energy storage capability.
The plant’s construction and operation will produce much-needed tax income for local communities and the state of Arizona, and support the nation’s goals for energy independence and developing a clean energy economy.
In a press release, Abengoa CEO Santiago Seage said, “Solana is the first large scale CSP plant for Abengoa Solar in the U.S. and will be a key milestone for our development in this country.”
The utility originally signed an agreement with Abegnoa in 2008 for the Solana power plant. But, Gotfreid said, the recession made it harder for Abengoa to get the financing to construct the Solana project.
He added that the plant will help APS and Arizona reach the state’s renewable energy portfolio requirements, which mandate that utilities must generate 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025.
Pictured: An artist's rendering of what the solar troughs at Solana will look like, courtesy of Agengoa Solar.